Clarity call over Dublin IRA 'amnesty'

Published Monday, 18 August 2014
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Victims’ campaigners are calling for the Irish government to make a public statement over claims the authorities turned a blind eye to IRA killers operating in the Republic for more than a decade.

Clarity call over Dublin IRA 'amnesty'
Enda Kenny marked the 40th anniversary of the Dublin-Monaghan bombing. (© PA)

It comes after the Irish Government privately denied there was an amnesty for those suspected of carrying out killings.

Families and survivors of one the worst single atrocities of the Troubles are demanding a public statement about claims by former justice minister Michael McDowell that a blind eye was turned to fugitives.

A government official has told Margaret Urwin, of Justice for Forgotten, which is campaigning for the truth about the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings, that various attempts were made to deal with the on-the-runs issue during the peace process.

In a letter, the Department of Justice civil servant said Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald was aware of Mr McDowell's remarks but said the Garda will pursue any evidence in relation to Troubles-related offences.

The official said many attempts were made to strike a deal about fugitives but insisted there was no question of an amnesty being in place in the Republic.

However, Ms Urwin is demanding a public statement from the Dublin government about the high-level claims.

"We are seeking definitive clarification about this," she said.

The person who made these remarks is not just some ordinary member of the public. It's a former attorney general and a former minister for justice. This was a person who was right at the heart of government.

Margaret Unwin

Asked about the on-the-runs controversy in Northern Ireland and Britain, Mr McDowell said there was "a consensus" in the Republic dating back at least 14 years ago that the Garda would no longer be prosecuting historical cases.

He said: "In fact what happened in the Republic was that there was just a decision by the guards to use their resources to prevent current crime and current offences and not to go back over the IRA's campaign of violence."

Ms Urwin said Mr McDowell was at the heart of justice in the Republic - both as justice minister and attorney general, the state's chief legal advisor - for eight years.

"He's hardly likely to make these remarks unless there is some truth in them," she said.

"We also note the absence of any public rebuttal of his remarks by the current government or indeed by his former colleagues who served alongside him in government.

"Nobody has come out publicly and said this was never the case.

"We would like to see a public statement being made by the government about this."

Ms Urwin has written again to the Irish Government asking if there was any unofficial arrangement with Garda chiefs about paramilitary fugitives as part of a deal to secure peace in Northern Ireland.

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson has also written to Taoiseach Enda Kenny seeking a meeting with victims' families about claims of an amnesty in the Republic.

© UTV News
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7 Comments
James in Comber wrote (95 days ago):
Couldn't have put it any better myself Lucylou. True words.
realistic in planet earth wrote (96 days ago):
correct Lucylou! well said!
Big G in The East wrote (96 days ago):
I dont think anyone gives a monkeys about the people north and south in ireland especially both governments , the same as all governments caring about themselves and there bank accounts and there armani suits and their designer bits , from rags to riches for some of them and from con man to super con man , we are only cannon fodder ,before YOU find out let me tell you no one cares , Honest !
Dorothy in Kansas wrote (96 days ago):
When agreement is made between opposing factions, the ordinary people are well pleased. If they are told, at the time, that deals were made to make the agreement happen, they say, “well, it’s worth it to bring peace.” When, years later and they have forgotten how things were before the agreement, they find out about the secret deals, they become self-righteous and moralistic and say, “we would never have agreed to this sort of thing.”
lucylou in belfast wrote (97 days ago):
I'm surprised this would surprise anybody. Of course the Irish government stank at times ---just like all the rest of the players involved. They ALL did rotten things re the troubles with no regard for victims. I think that where underhand deals done by the British, Irish, American and God knows who else are concerned we haven't even seen the TIP of the iceberg.
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